Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
USA, 1989. Beco Films, Morgan Creek Entertainment. Screenplay by Blake Edwards. Cinematography by Isidore Mankofsky. Produced by Tony Adams. Music by Henry Mancini. Production Design by Rodger Maus. Costume Design by Nolan Miller. Film Editing by Robert Pergament.
Blake Edwards spent a great deal of his post-sixties career exploring his own anxieties about sex and monogamy through his films, questioning the wisdom of the era of permissiveness that followed the free love sexual revolution (thanks to his panic over not having been young enough to really enjoy it) and toying with the possibility that men may never find the way out of their own fears of inadequacy. After The Man Who Loved Women and 10 comes this next sexual comedy that takes the concerns of That’s Life and puts them in terms that the director likely hoped would bring him more success at the box office.
John Ritter is probably the most likeable of all of Edwards’ womanizers, a famous author whose relationships all end in disastrous infidelity because of his infantile need to use sex to cover up his insecurities. His girlfriend catches him in bed with her hairdresser and they are all caught by his wife, who divorces him and takes him for all he’s worth in divorce court. Another attempt at a long-term relationship with Julianne Phillips ends with her burning his house down, after which his drinking problem gets worse and his one-night stands get crazier, including a dangerous run-in with a rocker’s girlfriend and a date with a female bodybuilder.
Constantly in pursuit of a reunion with his ex-wife, Ritter’s Zach Hutton see his writing career go to pot as he fails over and over again to face the fact that he doesn’t really know why he loves sex and women so much. Ritter’s charm offensive is impossible to resist, he never looked better and the idea that all these hapless dames fall for his bright eyes and shy smile isn’t the least bit difficult to understand, but the genuine pain behind the sarcasm that made That’s Life so affecting is not here.
It’s a film that keeps wanting to behave like a soulless eighties sex comedy (it was certainly promoted that way) but makes the motions of something more poignant, but in deciding on neither ends up being an empty effort at both.